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Explanation in Science and Technology


Josué Martín Peña Almonte

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, MX
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This article seeks to emphasize the fact that technology, like science, can also offer us explanations about the world. The article begins by adopting a definition of technology as knowledge, thus establishing a continuity between science and technology that allows us to extend the work done on the issue of scientific explanation. Three proposals are analyzed for defining the concept of scientific explanation, with emphasis on Wesley Salmon’s causal mechanical model. Next, the case of the pressure and volume indicator diagram in the steam engine is analyzed, in which, despite the lack of a competent scientific theory to interpret the data obtained through a new instrument, our technological knowledge allowed for the generation of the explanations that the scientific theory of the time was unable to provide. The example meets the demands stipulated by the causal mechanical model of explanation but differs in that here the explanation was not the result of scientific knowledge. Rather, it was the technological knowledge provided by the indicator what generated a new explanation of the steam engine’s efficiency and functioning.


Note: A correction to this article has been published as of June 1, 2015: An acknowledgements section has been added.

How to Cite: Almonte, J.M.P., 2015. Explanation in Science and Technology. International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, 7(2), pp.10 (69–78). DOI:
Published on 29 May 2015.
Peer Reviewed


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